We often get asked from patients, “how often should you floss”?
Flossing is something most people know they’re supposed to do in order to care for their teeth, but rarely get around to. It can be considered difficult, uncomfortable, even painful. After all, aren’t you supposed to do it two or three times a day? Who has time for that?
How Often Should You Really Floss Your Teeth?
The truth is, you only need to floss your teeth once a day.
Two or three times would certainly be great, but it’s certainly not needed. One thorough flossing a day is really more than enough to get all the benefits of flossing.
When to floss is up to you. Many like to floss after lunch, while others prefer to floss before bed. They typically have more time then than during the day, and it means their teeth are thoroughly clean while they sleep at night. The most important thing, though, is that it gets done.
Should You Floss Before or After Brushing Your Teeth
Whichever you prefer. There’s no particular benefit either way. That said, if you floss first and dislodge food particles from between your teeth, brushing will help ensure they’re completely swept out of the mouth by the time you’re finished cleaning.
Why is Flossing Your Teeth Important
Toothbrushes simply can’t reach between your teeth properly. When we chew, small particles of food will get jammed between the teeth. Toothpicks are a popular choice for dislodging this food, although it’s not ideal. Flossing is gentler on your teeth, and the fluoride coating provides an extra level of protection.
Keep in mind, though, that even if you can’t feel a corn husk after eating popcorn, or a strand of meat after a steak, doesn’t mean there’s not something between your teeth. Fine food particles can get stuck there without you noticing, and bacteria will just love to get stuck into eating it. Flossing ensures you remove even these difficult to notice particles and prevent decay and infection.
Proper Flossing Technique
Break off roughly a foot of floss and wrap it around your middle fingers. Use your index fingers to manipulate the floss back and forth between your teeth, taking the time to go between each tooth. Holding your floss like this will give you the best control over the floss and the most thorough clean between your teeth.
Alternatives to Flossing
If, after all of this, you still don’t feel like flossing, worry not – there are alternatives.
The important thing isn’t strictly the floss itself, but that you use something to clean between your teeth. These are known as interdental cleaners. Two popular alternatives to floss are interdental brushes, which look like miniature pipe cleaners, and pre-cut lengths of floss on small handles that you can easily get between the teeth.
Using either of these interdental cleaners will provide the same benefits as flossing, and people generally find them much easier to manage them trying to use floss. They’re also ideal for people who have lower dexterity, such as the elderly, those with arthritis, or those with impaired mobility in their hands.